Photo of the day: DEAD MARILYN ~ DAY OF THE DEAD – Day of the Dead / Dia de Meurtos is a fascinating holiday celebrated in Mexico October 31 and November 1 & 2. Even though this coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul’s & All Saint’s Day (Halloween), Mexicans have combined this with their own ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones. They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. I think this is wonderful. Elaborate altars are prepared with food and drink, skulls made of sugar, marigolds and lots of flowers, cigarettes for the departed and incredible folk art replicating and honoring their dear departed.
So on my annual trip to Tijuana, Mexico this August it was close enough for the approaching holiday that the Day of the Dead folk art abounded. Eagerly I shopped the markets – I saw dead Frida Kahlo of course, dead Elvis and my two treasures – dead Marilyn. Upon seeing them, my first reaction was with excitement. Second reaction with revulsion. Third reaction “I have to have them!” (Fourth reaction ‘Which do I choose?’) So here are my two hand made folk art Dead Marilyns (I’ve gotten used to them in my living room). Feliz Dia de los Muertos! .
PS – There was a short lived punk rock group called ‘Dead Marilyn’, I have the picture sleeve 45 tucked away somewhere.
Photo of the day: WHERE DO YOUR OLD SCHOOL BUSES GO? – Part of my ‘Tijuana Tuesday’ series. Ever wonder what happens to that clunky old yellow school bus that mom walked you to every morning? That old faithful bright yellow box of a bus that you and your buddies (and enemies) took to school five days a week? The classic part of our Americana landscape? The answer is = MEXICO!
On my recent trip to Tijuana, Mexico I was fascinated by their idea of ‘mass transit’. My coming from one of the biggest metropolises on the planet, New York City, I am used to big modern, (now some electric), sleek air conditioned kneeling buses with big scenic windows. Well not in Tijuana. Meet your old school bus! The old General Motors buses are over hauled, painted bright green and viola – ‘mass transito’ .
The destinations are hand painted onto the interior windows. It is one flat fee the equivalent of approximately $0.75¢. There are frequent official benched bus stops, but the buses pick up passengers wherever someone signals them, and, let you off wherever you wish. They are always full. No one seems to converse much on them, they are always quiet, people just sit politely staring out the windows. Their idea of air conditioning is simple – open windows! And if it is really hot . . . the driver drives with the door wide open!! (Better not stand too close to the front!) Some are decorated with paper cut-outs inside, some hang discarded furniture/lamp fringe in the windows. The most charming of all, at night some of them have red Christmas lights inside of them.
It certainly isn’t what we in our big USA cities are used to, but they are content, busy scurrying back and forth from the market and home on your old yellow/their new green buses. Old school buses never die, they just retire in Mexico!
Heath Ledger as The Joker, Batman 2008
Photo of the day: THE HIDDEN ART TREASURES OF TIJUANA, MEXICO – (Part of my new ‘Tijuana Tuesday’ series). Most tourists know Tijuana, Mexico for it’s allure of inexpensive souvenirs, leather goods, bountiful food & drink, the colorful streets and the bargain ready store keepers. Most tourists arrive after the stores officially open at 10 am, which, since it’s Mexico…means 10:30, 10:45, 11:00 in the land of ‘mañana’. Other tourists choose to arrive at sundown just for a night of drinking and partying. But what happens if you arrive early in the morning instead?
Last week on my visit to Tijuana, I decided to visit the main shopping thoroughfare Revolution Avenue (or Avenida Revolución) early, taking advantage of my body clock being three hours ahead on New York time to photograph the colorful buildings. Believe me, they don’t ‘do mornings’ – I was practically the only one on the main street. But, being so early reveals a hidden treasure most tourists don’t get to see – the wonderful murals painted on the steel gates of the closed store fronts! Just as New York’s Harlem 125th Street has painted murals of African history and heritage done by 85 year old artist Franco the Great only to be seen before the stores open at 10am and lift and hide the gates.
The same wonderful hidden treasures are revealed here in Tijuana in the early morning hours too. The art styles on the steel gates range from pop culture references, traditional Mexican folk lore to street graffiti. As I wondered down the sunny avenue in wonderment at all the wonderful colors, old architecture and design, I didn’t even realize I was photographing a recurring theme of the steel gates so I didn’t get to photograph them all, but these are some that just fascinated me. There is such beauty in the rustic old buildings, you never really see their old age, rust or need of care. The imaginative designs, the vintage signs, the brightly colored walls, the charming old cast iron gates and the swaying palm trees create a colorful illusion of charming perfection. How wonderful to see no chain stores and glaring modern electronic billboards, instead just “art”, however you interpret “art” to be – it is all around you. Then as 10:30-ish rolls around, you start to hear the clankering of the metal gates, one by one, being lifted up as the stores keepers prepare their shops for the day, only to reveal more colorful treasures inside!
“Tijuana makes me happy.”
Photo of the day: HAPPY LABOR DAY! – from your local Tijuana hooker !
Photo of the day: BULL FIGHTS SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 1, TIJUANA, MEXICO – I passed by the soccer stadium in Tijuana, and these fliers were being handed out. Luckily I wasn’t there to see this. As famous as bullfights are, it would horrify me to witness 21,000 people in Estadio Caliente cheering the death of an animal.
el Campanario Shop: Ave Revolucion No. 952, Tijuana, Mexico
Photo of the week: TIJUANA + TOURISM + TEQUILA! – I spent the last few days in one of my favorite fun places in the world = Tijuana, Mexico! It’s is a photographer’s feast of colors, architecture, stark contrasts and vibrant life. Wednesday was spent walking the streets from 9am till 9pm with camera in hand! I just got back home and am exhausted and exhilarated from having such a good time, eating superb meals, photographing and shopping. I took well over 1,000 photos between San Diego and Mexico. There are many blogs with many stories to come (including one about the dog who wanted to go to church!) about this much maligned city. I’m thinking of starting a “Tijuana Tuesday” blog to tell the stories of this curious and fascinating place, the people and their daily lives.
Oh, btw – this is my new friend Carlos with whom I shared tequila shots – why not . . . it was noon 🙂 !